Lord Neurberger told the BBC yesterday that the consequences of the controversial legal aid cuts that are championed to be saving the government £350 million a year could in fact end up costing the government more money due to people being forced to take the law into their own hands as they lose their access to justice.
Last week the government announced that they would be pushing through proposals to cut the fixed recoverable costs on road traffic accident portal claims by up to £10,000 which is the latest in a whole host of changes to the industry that will effectively strip the genuine accident claimant’s access to justice and it is this that Lord Neurberger that could cost the government dear.
Speaking to the BBC he said: “My worry is the removal of legal aid for people to get advice about law and get representation in court will start to undermine the rule of law because people will feel like government isn’t giving them access to justice in all sorts of cases.”
He also stated that an increase in people having to represent themselves in court because they can’t afford their legal aid will mean that court hearings will last longer, leading to an increasing burden on court staff and judges as a result of people taking the law into their own hands.
Talking about the repercussions for the government of this happening he said: “You may find the savings the government thinks it’s making in legal aid will be offset in other costs of courts and judges and court staff in supporting litigants in person.”
But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has played down fears of restricting the claimant’s access to justice in a statement yesterday that said: “Legal aid will continue to be provided to those who most need it, such as where domestic violence is involved, where people’s life or liberty is at stake or the loss of their home.”
This statement alone shows a worrying ignorance from the MoJ regarding victims of road traffic accidents alone whose lives are genuinely affected by their accident. The result of most accidents requires rehabilitation and leads to a loss of earning to the client who is forced to take time off work. It is completely unfair that these claimants are forced to foot the bill of these rehabilitation costs if the accident was not their fault just because they can’t afford to gain their access to justice.
1. Public Domain Pictures; Petr Kratochvil; http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=12908&picture=pound-sign